Meet … A.J. Fitzwater

Depending on the weather and the alignment with The Void, AJ Fitzwater is 1000 tiny unicorns in a blazer, velociraptors peddling furiously inside a three piece suit, a dragon in a meat suit, or a capybara in Ten’s trenchcoat. They write from their secret lair in Christchurch, New Zealand. Their ability to word was well moulded by the Clarion workshop in 2014, and has been celebrated by two Sir Julius Vogel Awards. You’ll find their stories in venues of repute such as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer Magazine, Giganotosaurus, and GlitterShip. The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper from Queen of Swords Press will be out April 6, and No Man’s Land from Paper Road Press June 8. @AJFitzwater.

Q: You and I share a love for Fury Road, because Furiosa, right? But I want to dig a little deeper into Captain Marvel. How are you digging Carol (old skool) and Kamala (fresh new blood)?

A: I love Carol Danvers for many of the same reasons I love Furiosa. They’re tough fighters, not so much into the talking thing, they work with their disabilities, they’re observant, smart, good leaders, and Get Shit Done.

Kelly Sue de Connick’s Carol will always be my Captain Marvel. She was lippy, funny, lived in the Statue of Liberty, and punched dinosaurs! She was unabashedly feminist at a time when comics and superhero movies were struggling through backlash. de Connick’s Carol wasn’t written for the traditional male fan, and the Carol Corps was a dynamic, organic response by marginalized comic fans. While she retained her Carolness throughout Civil War II and the reinvention of her origins to come more in line with her movie origins, I felt the Civil War II Carol was created by editorial committee who needed her to bend to the story – I feel Carol would not abandon her ethics to treat young mutants like terrorists. I’m glad to have Kelly Thompson currently writing her – the humour and sass is back! I loved Thompson’s West Coast Avengers run, it was hilarious (Viva Jeff the Baby Land Shark!). I hope more of that humour is allowed to come through.

As for Carol and Kamala…I want more of them working together! I’ve read the new Ms Marvel right from the beginning and I love it for the family and friends vibe. While Carol has been bounced between groups over the last half decade, Kamala has consistently had the support of her community, keeping the continuity of characters which I often miss when a comic is bounced between writers. I was sad to see G. Willow Wilson move on, but Saladin Ahmed is doing a great job of writing a Kamala who is now moving into young adulthood. Both writers have done an excellent job of melding a young woman’s struggles with superherodom, social media, gentrification, religion, family, racism, politics, and self discovery.

Q: The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper is perhaps the most epic book title of all time. I need to know more: the Dapper? A capybara? A glass whale? This one speaks to my family-you-choose code, but I really just want to hear about the capybara.

Don’t tell anyone, but here’s the confession: I’m really a capybara in a Doctor Who style trench coat. World domination by capybara chill!

There’s something about a capybara’s square jaw and communal spirit that speaks to me of a dapper butch. I know capybara are a wild animal at heart (they tend to be rather aggressive in their teenage years), and I’m anthropomorphizing through memes and cute pictures on Tumblr. But what is it about a capybara that attracts other animals to them? I wanted to imagine that through a fantasy scenario, and what better way than via a queer House (Ship) Mother. Cinrak wants to look after everyone in the way she never was as a young queer struggling to find herself.

Cinrak loves bow ties because I love bow ties. But she’s cool under pressure where I’m not. And I’ve always been fascinated by people who evince trust by their charisma, humour, and endless amounts of love. Where does that capacity come from? I wanted to examine that, show how a leader can struggle to keep the well of spirit and love full, and show how a community can come together to support a leader.

And that’s where the glass whale Xolotli comes in. They are super chill and mysterious, and become somewhat of a therapist for Cinrak. But who listens to the whale’s problems? Maybe that’s something I’ll have to examine in future Cinrak stories.

Q: You’re at Disneyland with a friend (you pick). You fall off the teacups and hit your head, waking three days later with no memory, but a camera’s in your pocket with video. Do you check it out, and if so, what’s on it?

If I’m in Disneyland when the accident happens, this one is simple. The video will show me bribing cast members (including every princess AND the Carol Danvers face character to join me), then me riding Space Mountain for three days straight. I’d probably take naps in Walt’s apartment, eat churros for all meals, and try to pet every feral cat in the park.

You need to get this capybara story, so treat yo’self. Epic: The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper.

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